PALMETTO BAY, Fla. (WSVN) — Police have arrested two students at Southwood Middle School in Palmetto Bay after they allegedly made a threat through social media to kill their teacher and her family.
Twelve-year-old Claudio Torreslara and 13-year-old Payton Rolle have been charged with aggravated stalking and written threats with intent to kill with bodily injury.
According to Miami-Dade Police, the teacher received a friend request and a direct message on Instagram. The message stated that she and her children were “next on Valentine’s Day.”
The message further stated that the sender would shoot at the school and kill her family.
“It was basically threatening to do her harm and her children harm as well,” said Miami-Dade Police Detective Chris Thomas.
The police report read, “The direct messages stated, ‘You and your children are next on Valentine’s Day for making my life. I’m finna (sic) kill all yo family and shoot up to (expletive) ass school.’ The victim also alerted to an ‘exclamation point’ on a picture on her infant daughter.”
The teacher immediately notified police, and detectives were able to identify the location where the social media account was registered.
Police went to Rolle’s home. Officials said the teen confessed to his involvement in sending the message and implicated Torreslara.
Both students were then taken into custody.
Parents outside of the school reacted to the arrest, Monday evening.
“As a mom, I’m very concerned, but I’m glad the police handled it,” said Melissa Mathis.
“Clearly very disturbing, and I think it’s got to come from the parents, of educating the kids on what’s appropriate and what’s not appropriate,” said Shawn Crews.
In a statement, Miami-Dade Public Schools Superintendent Albert Carvalho said, “Parents and students must understand that any threat — real or fabricated — to schools and students is a serious matter. It is unacceptable, and those involved in such activity will be prosecuted.”
There has been tension over school security elsewhere in South Florida. Officials at Pioneer Middle School in Cooper City told the Broward Sheriff’s Office that students were hearing about a threat planned for the same day as the Southwood Middle students. Thursday marks the one-year anniversary of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
Pioneer Middle students noticed a difference at the school on Monday.
“There’s a police officer with a full bulletproof vest on. That’s not normal,” said a student.
Pioneer officials said a teacher advised the school principal on Friday of phone calls students had received about potential threats.
“I kind of feel a little bit safer, ’cause we have the police officer there,” said the student, “but I also feel kind of scared, ’cause that means something might actually happen, and we might need that police officer.”
Monday’s arrests come 15 years after 14-year-old Southwood Middle student Jaime Gough was killed by a fellow classmate in a school bathroom, just before the start of classes, on Feb. 4, 2004.
Police said Gough, an “A” student who was in eighth grade, was fatally stabbed by Michael Hernandez, then 14. Hernandez, who carried a knife in his book bag, was later convicted of murder.
Fifteen years later, Miami-Dade school threats have been scrutinized. So far this school year, there have been 28 threats via social media and 31 verbal and/or written threats, for a total of 59.
“Any threat that comes through is going to be taken seriously,” said Thomas.
7News heard back from Torreslara’s mother, Monday night. She said that what her son did was a joke in bad taste.
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